The day has come…

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3-16-13 Oliver7I knew this day would come, and I knew it was going to be difficult. Oliver just turned 18 months, and what with everything swirling around here of late, we kind of dropped the ball when it comes to getting him “fixed”. A few months back, I discussed the pros and cons – according to a layman like me – to having this operation completed, so if it’s all right with you my loyal readers, this time around I’d rather not re-visit why it’s a barbaric and unnecessary procedure. Let’s just accept that it’s going to happen and move on – thanks for understanding.

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We’re getting Oliver fixed on Wednesday morning. Though sad about actually doing it – I don’t want to put my baby through any unnecessary discomfort – we’re doing it for the following reasons… it is convenient, and besides, when we purchased him from the breeder we signed a contract saying that we would. There are a similar amount of health-related concerns on either side of getting this procedure completed at an early or later stage, but most importantly, I believe that by giving Oliver the 18 months that we did to grow into his body he was able to take full advantage of the natural hormonal development over that time… he has derived more benefit from NOT being snipped at an early age and denied of so many natural body chemicals – he has grown into a healthy, happy and incredibly stable young dog. He’ll also get micro-chipped in case he hates us for it and decides to run away 😉

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I don’t want Oliver to breed unnecessarily, and although in all likelihood he would never get the chance to roam free and do anything unexpected… you just never know. Better safe than sorry in that regard, and as a family we’re all for responsible pet owning.

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Here’s the convenience piece… we’re realizing that over the next few weeks and months we are going to need to temporarily house our little friend for a day or two here and there… maybe even an overnight stay. Doctor visits and other commitments are starting to fill the calendar, and although to date we have been able to work around every circumstance, the day is coming when an extended event will definitely mean needing to board Oliver.

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We have an awesome boarding kennel lined up, but they are understandably reluctant to have dogs – even if all males – co-habitate if some are fixed, while others aren’t. There’s a significant chance that our little currently un-fixed guy will be the one trying to “hump” other dogs – and while that’s perfectly natural behavior – apparently it can make for a more heightened and less tranquil atmosphere within the group, and we wouldn’t want that to happen.

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And besides, one of the things we’re especially hoping to get from the boarding experience is a positive social interaction for Oliver. His demeanor is such that he just wants to play… with anyone, anytime, anywhere. He’s a happy dog who will get along with all others… perfectly. However, if he’s humping (and there’s no guarantee fixing will prevent that), then the possibility of a mellow co-existence within his fellow boarders might become a little unbalanced, and if the alternative is some form of isolation for the humper… well, then that’s not what we want.

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Anyhoo… Wednesday is the big day. We’ve cleared the decks so that we’ll be here to care for him after the event and give all the love he needs. We’ll make sure he gets as much peace and quiet, medicine, and of course, love, so that he can make as full a recovery as soon as possible. I have no doubt that Oliver will once again amaze and be the model patient, but it still makes me sad that we have to put him through this process. Wish him luck 😉

The Band Perry

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Waterfront Concerts and the brand spanking new Cross Insurance Center brought The Band Perry to Bangor this week. I still can’t believe we can see performers like this just about a mile from our house in little old Bangor, Maine. This was the opening date on The Band Perry’s first headline tour, and boy were they polished and ready for primetime. Anyone expecting a laid-back, country music group from Tennessee would have been seriously disappointed… this family trio absolutely rocked the house. I’m no concert reviewer – I’ll leave that to others more qualified – but I know what I like when it comes to entertainment, and I liked this show immensely. Jack, Lori and I were just a couple of rows from the front, and our proximity to the stage allowed us to swim in the band’s energy from start to finish. Excellent show!

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Experimenting

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12-30-13 oliver14I usually only carry a 70-200mm lens when I take my “real” camera to the golf course to make photographs of Oliver as he plays, and I like the reach it provides for my fast moving friend. The longer focal length is a significant departure from the wide angle approach I usually take when shooting landscapes, and it provides ample opportunity to practice and experiment with a different perspective. The sun had already gone down for the day, and although there was still some warmth on the horizon, the snowy fairway was engulfed in the blue hues of the reflected darkening sky. The longer lens compressed the scene considerably, and I had some fun experimenting with a variety of compositions. Here’s one I liked.

A snowy abstract…

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12-30-13 oliver15So far, we’ve been getting our fair share of snow this winter. The temperatures have dipped down pretty low too, making it a little challenging to spend any kind of quality time outside. New Year’s Eve brought us a cozy – and record low temperature of – minus 13 degrees F (that’s -25 C!), so it’s fair to say that it’s been chilly around these parts lately. After a fun walk to the golf course with Oliver, I spotted this little scene while making our way home. The sun had already dipped below the horizon, and almost reluctantly, I pulled my frozen fingers out of what were warm and toasty mittens to shoot the cool shadowy blue of this snow bank contrasting against the sunset sky. I used a long-ish lens (70-200mm) and a large aperture to isolate just the elements needed, and although a rather simple and abstract composition, I kinda like it. Oh yeah… and this one makes for a “cool” (pun intended) iPhone home screen.

Like glass…

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12-30-13 oliver16We still haven’t managed to lose any of the recent accumulations of ice received during the holiday ice storm. Instead of warming up, the temperatures have taken a dive for the worse, and that means the landscape is still covered in a glaze of ice. At any other time of the year, this little tree isn’t something I would even think of photographing, but with a coating of glass, it glistens magnificently in whatever kind of light we have. Returning from a walk with Oliver, I was intrigued by the beautiful colors in the sunset sky and grabbed the quick photograph posted above. Several days apart, below is the same tree in very different light…

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A foot of new snow…

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…so away we went to the local golf course. Oliver loves the snow, and he also loves being off leash. We recently spent a few days visiting Granny and Grandpa in Northampton, MA, and although I’m sure there are places we could have let him run, we aren’t too familiar with the area just yet, so it had been about a week since he ran free like this. A foot of fresh powder overnight meant some serious digging out this morning, but it also made for a perfect winter playground – and needless to say, Oliver made the best of his opportunity. I like to think he’s genuinely smiling in the photograph above, and even if he’s not, I KNOW he had himself a blast! Happy New Year!

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Ice

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So, we had ourselves a little ice storm here in Maine. It’s amazing how much trouble a half an inch or so of ice can cause, and although this storm wasn’t on the same scale as the one in 1998, its impact was still felt pretty hard all across the region. The actual event of ice falling isn’t what creates all of the havoc, but rather it’s the ice accumulating on tree branches and then being frozen in place as a coating of glass. Tree limbs are heavily bowed – and in many cases broken – with the added weight, and if electrical wires happened to be in the vicinity, well there’s a good chance they came down too. We were some of the lucky ones. Other than a few intermittent outages, our power has stayed on. Many people were not as fortunate though, and I can’t imagine what kind of holiday they had. The cold temperatures have hung around for the past week, and without a noticeable warm up, the ice is still laying heavy on the landscape. We’re bracing ourselves for another 6-10 inches of snow this evening, with more ice, sleet and freezing rain mixed in for good measure. Although it makes for a winter-wonderland landscape, I’m about ready for some of those balmy mid-thirty degree, ice-melting temperatures. And yes… that’s a very happy dog in the last photograph – he’s exploring along the edge of the woods where all the good smells are 🙂

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Interrupting your regularly scheduled programming…

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To bring you some pix of my favorite dog… Oliver.

For the first time this winter, it got seriously cold here in Maine this week. With a thin layer of snow blanketing the frozen ground, Oliver and I have been braving the “high” temperatures that have dipped as low as -3F degrees (that’s -19C for my friends to the north and across the pond), and despite the icy wind chill making it feel even colder, we had a blast exploring the local golf course. On this particular afternoon, the low angled winter light was absolutely spectacular, and as you can see, it did a number on my favorite Golden Retriever.

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Too cold to play golf…

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The local golf course is now closed. As the temperatures finally take a dip to more winter-like levels and frost starts to cover the ground, the doors to the pro shop have been shuttered for another year. What does that mean for us? Well… throughout the summer, if Oliver and I wanted to walk the course, it meant we had to be out there before the sun came up, and our walk needed to be concluded by 7 a.m. That was the earliest golfers were allowed to start playing, and it made for some early o’clock starts! Although I absolutely LOVED the tranquility of those early mornings, I have to admit that I’m also looking forward to now being able to walk the course with Oliver anytime of the day we’re able to – I’m just not looking forward to the cold and snow that’s undoubtedly on it’s way.

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Happy Dog…

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I’m not sure there’s anywhere Oliver would rather be than wandering the local golf course on a family walk. As the days have become shorter and the temperatures much cooler, the resolve of even the most ardent of golfers has been tested to the point where the course is now pretty empty in the late afternoon. We had some nice light on a recent walk… nuff said.

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A Boy and his Dog

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Jack doesn’t always come with us when we go for a walk with Oliver, but when he does, he usually has a blast. In fact, the two of them usually have a grand time chasing each other all over the place! It’s as if Oliver knows that Jack is a kid, and that as such, he’s supposed to play with him! Jack doesn’t need a lot of encouragement to join in the fun.

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Heeeeeeere’s Oliver!

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For all you Oliver lovers out there… you know who you are! Here are a few quick pics of my boy enjoying a late fall family walk. He’s such a good boy, and isn’t he handsome? He’ll charge around in the long grass like a crazy dog, and when we pull the tennis ball out for a game of fetch… well, he’s all in. He’s a solid 75 lbs now, and since he’s quite stocky, sometimes in these photographs he looks a bit chubby – though he’s not really. Lots of fur he has. Our baby boy… enjoy!

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It’s been a while…

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…since I’ve made one of these types of photographs. From a recent hike in the Bangor Forest, these images were made by moving the camera up or down and through the scene while keeping the shutter open for half a second. I loved the earthy tones of the scene above, and although it appeared to be nothing special in person, I enjoy how it came out when using this technique. Here are a couple more made using the same technique… the first showcases the carpet of red leaves decorating on the floor, and the second emphasizes the dappled light that was bouncing around within a small copse of trees.

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Fall in the forest…

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It had been a while since we last visited the Bangor Forest, so just recently we scratched an itch to return there, and boy are we glad we did. The fall foliage colors, though just slightly past their peak, were still pretty amazing, and the peace and tranquility we found along the trail made this an awesome family hike. Oliver was invited, and as usual, he was a champ as we eagerly explored our wooded surroundings. Staying on the outskirts of the forest – we hopped onto the West Loop Trail – meant that we saw very few people, so even though we were relatively close to the bustling mall area of town, the solitude experienced made it feel as if we were deep in the woods on an adventure. There were pockets of fall color still to be found, and although I brought the camera with me, I was quite content to keep it slung over my shoulder most of the time while I enjoyed the company of my peeps. Here are a couple more from our fall walk in the forest…

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Beautiful Day(s)

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As summer has slowly made the transition to autumn, here in Maine, the temperatures during the day have been mild and the weather in general has been quite spectacular. Early morning walks with Oliver have revealed some impressive sunrise colors… I think it’s something to do with the temperature changes this time of year. Just about every morning I’m clicking away with my iPhone camera, and since most of the photographs I make never see the light of day, I figured I’d share a few here on the blog so that you could get a glimpse of how we begin our day together. All of these are from the past couple of weeks, and even Oliver stopped in his tracks to enjoy that last one…

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First frost

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Though our morning walks have been quite chilly of late, today was the first day that we had an actual frost on the ground. It was still pretty dark at 5:40 am when we started our daily walk, but as the light crept up and over the distant horizon, a delicate and crisp carpet of frosting on the grass was slowly revealed. To date, the fall foliage colors around here have been progressing at a fairly leisurely pace, though my guess is that this morning’s frost will accelerate that process. As Oliver and I wandered up and down a few golf holes, I was drawn to some of the already downed leaves and how their warm, autumn colors contrasted with the cold, icy ground. Happy leaf-peeping to you all…

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Why am I blogging?

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I’ve been asking myself that question lately? This isn’t a reveal-type post about the benefits of blogging – it’s just me saying out loud (or at least in writing) something I’ve been contemplating recently. While I firmly believe that it’s always good to reflect and wonder why we do anything… I also don’t have an answer to my own question this time. It’s kind of ironic that I don’t have the mojo to create a blog post about why I don’t have the mojo to write a blog post, eh?

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As I work through this… here are a few iPhone pix from this morning’s walk with Oliver. As we approached the still darkened fairways of the golf course, the pre-dawn light looked primed to put on a show. I’ve learned to recognize the potential those slits in the clouds near the horizon offer at this time of day, but I’ve also learned that more often than not, that epic sunrise I’m anticipating usually doesn’t materialize. This time however, it did not disappoint. As the 6:25 a.m. sunrise streaked across and under a thin layer of high clouds, it lit up the sky spectacularly as if it were on fire. Oliver literally stopped in his tracks and turned to admire the view… as did I.

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So… getting back to the original question of why am I blogging? Like I said earlier, it’s good to reflect and question why we do certain things. It helps clarify purpose, and it helps keep things moving from a creative perspective. Maybe it’s just been a long week? I’m already thinking about why I’m writing about what I’m writing in this very post… I don’t want to do that right now… so I’m going to step away for a few days and do some more thinking about that one, and we’ll see if I can’t come up with a few reasons to continue this bloggy thing.

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What I do in my spare time…

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Lay on the kitchen floor and take photographs of a sleepy Oliver of course! The air conditioner squeezed into the kitchen window has seen way more use this summer than in past years. Pre-Oliver, we would probably have turned it on maybe 3 or 4 times throughout the entire summer – and only when the mercury climbed upwards of 90 degrees – but this season it has been churning out the cool air pretty constantly. After all, we’ve gotta keep this fur-coat-wearing-handsome-boy cool, right? He loves to sprawl out on the chilled wooden floor, and while he’s enjoying an air-conditioned snooze, I can’t help but use my iPhone camera to snap a few pics…

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Another first day of school

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Boy do these days come around fast. It seems like yesterday that Jack was going to school for the very first time. I can remember that day vividly, though in what seems like the blink of an eye, here we are starting fourth grade already. Fourth grade means a change of school for Jack, and I’m pleased to report that he’s settling in to his new surroundings quite nicely. There’s a big adjustment to be made, with an increase in homework, and lots of after-school activity choices to be made. Life’s getting just a tad more complicated for Jack these days, but what better way to send him off to school than a big hug from the O-Dog!

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Dog pix

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